The Weeknd, Starboy © Republic

10 Hot 100 Takeaways: The Chainsmokers Make It Nine

The Weeknd, Starboy © Republic

The Chainsmokers seem to be unstoppable.  For a ninth week, “Closer” holds down the no. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.  The Weeknd is on the duo’s heels as “Starboy” continues to gain steam.  Beyond hot joints by The Chainsmokers and The Weeknd, there are a number of chart stories from the Hot 100 dated October 29, 2016.


  1. The Chainsmokers spend a ninth week at no. 1 with megahit “Closer” (ft. Halsey).



  1. The Weeknd remains at no. 2 with rising hit “Starboy” (ft. Daft Punk).



  1. Bruno Mars debuts at no. 5 with comeback single “24K Magic.”



  1. Zay Hillfigerr & Zayion McCall get a huge lift as “Juju on that Beat (TZ Anthem)” ascends from no. 89 to no. 11.



  1. Amine is gaining steam. “Caroline” rises from no. 44 to no. 35.



  1. Niall Horan loses support for “This Town” in its third charting week.



  1. John Legend debuts at no. 55 with “Love Me Now.”



  1. Maroon 5 debuts at no. 56 with “Don’t Wanna Know” (ft. Kendrick Lamar).



  1. Jon Bellion sees “All Time Low” finally debut on the Hot 100 at no. 82.



  1. The best song off of the new OneRepublic album Oh My My “Kids” – debuts at no. 96.



Green Day, Revolution Radio © Reprise

25 Chart Takeaways: Green Day Takes the ‘Revolution’ to No. 1


Green Day, Revolution Radio © Reprise

Green Day returns to familiar place – no. 1 on the Billboard 200. Revolution Radio easily topped the charts, moving 95,000 units. Despite new albums from Norah Jones (Day Breaks) and OneRepublic (Oh My My) checking in at nos. 2 and 3, Green Day easily locked down the top spot.  Beyond Green Day Norah Jones, and OneRepublic, there are numerous chart stories worth analyzing on the Billboard 200 dated October 29, 2016.


  1. Green Day easily debuts at no. 1 with Revolution Radio.



  1. Norah Jones settles for no. 2 with her latest LP, Day Breaks.



  1. OneRepublic debut at a new career high no. 3 with Oh My My. Unfortunately, the numbers are less notable compared to the no. 3 start.



  1. Solange (A Seat at the Table) slips five spots from no. 1 to no. 6. Interestingly, the percentage of loss in sales was more respectable than most albums.



  1. Alter Bridge (The Last Hero) secures a spot in the top 10, bowing at no. 8.



  1. Phantogram beat the start for their previous album. Three starts at no. 9.



  1. Dance Gavin Dance takes Mothership to no. 13.


  1. Shawn Mendes makes his exit from the top 10 in his third week on the chart. Illuminate slides from no. 6 to no. 14 this week.



  1. Meshuggah takes The Violent Sleep of Reason to a top 20 band, landing at no. 17.


  1. Phish (Big Boat) debuts at no. 19.



  1. Sum 41 returns to the Billboard 200 with 13 Voices, which starts modestly at no. 22.


  1. Bon Iver experiences a subpar sophomore week. 22, A Million slides from no. 2 to no. 23. Last week, 22, A Million was the top-selling album.


13 Melissa Etheridge’s latest LP, Memphis Rock and Soul, lands at no. 34.



  1. Colbie Caillat doesn’t sell nearly as well as she once did. The Malibu Sessions settles for a quiet no. 35 start.



  1. Despite the fact that “Sit Still, Look Pretty” has been on constant rotation – at least on XM – the album of the same title performs so-so. Newcomer Daya debuts at no. 36.



  1. Set it Off takes Upside Down to no. 51.



  1. The Devil Wears Prada send Transit Blues to no. 56.


  1. Barry Gibb returns to the Billboard 200 with In the Now (no. 63).



  1. Fit For a King definitely didn’t have a Deathgrip on the upper quarter of the chart. Deathgrip debuts at no. 71.


  1. Mac Miller has had an unproductive run with The Divine Feminine. This week, the album slides 20 spots from no. 57 to no. 77.  It debuted at no. 2.


  1. Britt Nicole drops her self-titled album at no. 100.



  1. Jon Bellion sees The Human Condition improve…at least the album itself. The Human Condition rises from no. 144 to no. 101.



  1. Bob Weir plummets in week two. Blue Mountain free falls from no. 14 to no. 118.


  1. Banks has a poor second week. The Altar slides from no. 17 to no. 144.



  1. Country newcomer Tucker Beathard takes his EP Fight Like Hell to no. 177.


10 Hot 100 Takeaways: The Chainsmokers Tops for Eighth Week

D.R.A.M. ft. Lil Yachty, "Broccoli"

This week, The Weeknd sees “Starboy” on the rise.  Regardless of his status as a “starboy,” his growth in performance wasn’t enough to dethrone The Chainsmokers and Halsey.  For an eighth consecutive week, “Closer” is no. 1.  Beyond The Chainsmokers and the rise of The Weeknd, there are more chart stories on the Billboard Hot 100 dated October 22, 2016.


  1. The Chainsmokers spend an eighth consecutive week atop the Billboard Hot 100. “Closer” (ft. Halsey) seems unstoppable.



  1. The Weeknd couldn’t stop The Chainsmokers this week, but doesn’t it feel like he’s close to earning another no. 1 hit with “Starboy” (ft. Daft Punk). Of course!



  1. D.R.A.M. continues his ascent with “Broccoli” (ft. Lil Yachty). “Broccoli” jumps two spots from no. 8 to no. 6.



  1. gnash enters the top 10 with “I Hate U I Love U” (ft. Olivia O’Brien). The single rises from no. 13 to no. 10.




  1. Ariana Grande sees “Side to Side” (ft. Nicki Minaj) ascend seven spots from no. 19 to no. 12.



  1. The Chainsmokers latest single “All We Know” (ft. Phoebe Ryan) debuts at no. 18.



  1. Niall Horan sees “This Town” jump from no. 63 to no. 25.



  1. Keith Urban continues to ascend as “Blue Ain’t Your Color” gains in popularity (no. 53 to no. 45).




  1. DJ Khaled sees “Do You Mind” (ft. Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown & August Alsina) jump 30 spots from no. 82 to no. 52.



  1. The Weeknd sees “False Alarm” bow at no. 63.

Photo Credit#1EpicCheck LLC / EMPIRE


25 Chart Takeaways: Solange No. 1 on the Billboard 200

Solange, A Seat at the Table © Columbia

Let’s recap:  Bon Iver probably thought he had it in the bag.  The Grammy-winner was ready to earn more accolades – the no. 1 spot on the Billboard 200.  Unfortunately, 22, A Million debuts at no. 2, not no 1.  No. 1 honors go to Solange for her surprise album, A Seat at the Table.  There are more notable stories from the chart dated October 22, 2016.


  1. Solange (A Seat at the Table) debuts at no. 1 on the Billboard 200 – her first no. 1 album.



  1. Bon Iver scores his highest charting album on the Billboard 200 with 22, A Million, which narrowly debuts at no. 2 behind Solange.



  1. Red Hot Chili Peppers experience a big gain with The Getaway. The Getaway jumps 19 spots from no. 24 to no. 5.



  1. Shawn Mendes no longer illuminates the charts. Illuminate slips from no. 1 to no. 6 with a big dip in sales/overall impact.



  1. Van Morrison scores a rare top-10 album with Keep Me Singing, which debuts at no. 9.



  1. Radiohead (A Moon Shaped Pool) re-enters the Billboard 200 at no. 11.


  1. Bob Weir (Blue Mountain) debuts at no. 14 on the Billboard 200.



  1. Banks earns a top 20 debut with The Altar. The Altar lands at no. 17.


  1. Bruce Springsteen compilation Chapter and Verse slides from no. 5 to no. 21.



  1. Singer/songwriter Regina Spektor (Remember Us to Life) debuts at no. 23.



  1. Metal collective Opeth takes Sorceress to no. 24 on the Billboard 200.


  1. Drive-By-Truckers (American Band) debuts at no. 26.



  1. Yellowcard’s self-titled LP debuts quietly at no. 28.


  1. John Prine takes For Better, Or Worse to no. 30.



  1. Dave East takes Kairi Chanel to no. 38 on the Billboard 200.


  1. Usher has a poor third week. Hard II Love dips 20 spots from no. 20 to no. 40.



  1. After debuting at no. 2, Mac Miller has had little luck with The Divine Feminine. After dropping 28 spots in its second week, it drops 27 more in its third (no. 30 to no. 57).



  1. William Michael Morgan’s debut album Vinyl debuts quietly at no. 65.


  1. The soundtrack to Trolls slips from no. 33 to no. 71 in its second week.



  1. After debuting at no. 77 last week, Danny Brown sees Atrocity Exhibition remain static at no. 77.



  1. Ty Dolla $ign sees mixtape Campaign slip from no. 28 to no. 91 in its second week.



  1. Godsmack frontman Sully Erna probably should keep the day job. His solo album Hometown Life debuts modestly at no. 105.


  1. The Britney Spears slide continues. Glory drops 35 more spots from no. 103 to no. 138.




  1. Idina Menzel can’t be pleased with second week sales for Idina. After debuting at no. 29, Idina free falls to no. 178.


  1. Alex & Sierra barely nab a spot on the Billboard 200. As Seen on TV limps onto the charts at no. 183.
Photo Credit: Columbia
Bon Iver, 22, A Million © Jagjaguwar

Bon Iver, 22, A Million – Album Review

Bon Iver, 22, A Million © Jagjaguwar


Bon Iver – aka Justin Vernon – delivers an ambitious, compelling, and enigmatic third studio effort with ’22, A Million.’ 

Five years is an eternity in ever-changing music industry.  Five years is the length of time that alternative singer/songwriter Justin Vernon, better known as Bon Iver has been absent from the scene.  Bon Iver won two Grammys back in 2011 for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music album (Bon Iver).  Furthermore, he established himself as a Kanye West favorite, providing superb contributions to both My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) and Yeezus (2013).

Bon Iver returns triumphantly in 2016 with 22, A Million, an eclectic album that sounds like nothing else released in 2016.  Incorporating electronic cues and acoustic cues alike, 22, A Million is an intriguing listen.  While its lyrics can be challenging – drenched in spirituality, numerology, and the most accessible, romance – 22, A Million makes listeners think.

 “22 (OVER S∞∞N)” opens 22, A Million enigmatically and alluringly.  Vernon’s vocals are hauntingly radiant, over production comprised of sample (Mahalia Jackson), guitar, and saxophone among other instruments.

“10 dEAThbREasT⚄⚄” features epic production, particularly the distorted, hard beat.  Vernon sounds as if he’s shouting, particularly as the intensity picks up towards the end.  His vocals are heavily processed, but that’s clearly the desired effect – it works without a hitch.

Vernon’s effects-drenched vocals dominate “715 – CR∑∑KS,” where his voice is the centerpiece.  Even given the distortion with the vocoder, there’s a clear beauty – undeniable passion. He references love prominently, justifying his passion. He concludes:

“Turn around now, you’re my A-Team / god damn, turn around now / you’re my A-Team.”

Promo single 33 “GOD”” is stunning, if bizarre to the inexperienced Bon Iver ear. Ultimately, it is well produced, ambitious, and captivating. Keeping in step with the themes of 22, A Million, “33 “GOD”” dabbles in romance and spirituality.  On the romance front, Vernon is searching for a hook-up (or relationship) that ultimately goes awry:

“I didn’t need you that night / not gonna need you anytime / was gonna take it as it goes / I could go forward in the light / well I better fold my clothes”

In regards to spirituality, he seems skeptical, considering he turns it into a sexual metaphor:

“We find God and religions, too / staying at the Ace Hotel.”

“29 #Strafford APTS” has more acoustic features compared to the rest of 22, A Million.  Even so, vocally, Vernon still uses effects. To an extent, this represents more of the expected sound from Bon Iver – lush, somewhat indulgent, and thoughtful.  Here, the listener is forced to listen analytically, while experiencing chills – a brilliant balancing act.

“666 ʇ” seems to put religion and skepticism at the forefront.  The first line makes reference to 666, the number of the beast, with Vernon almost questioning the proper reaction: 

“Sixes hang in the door / what kind of shit to ignore / baby I’ve cut the cloth.”

The latter part of the lyric is Biblical, yet in this context, it seems Bon Iver is shunning religion itself.  Later, he remains conflicted:

“I’m still standing in / I’m still standing in your need of prayer / the need of prayer.”

“21 M◊◊N WATER” embraces numerology, a concept used throughout 22, A Million as a whole.  This is obvious from the jump, as Vernon sings:

“The math ahead / the math behind it / it’s moon water.”

A further “cut of the cloth,” numerology isn’t associated with Christianity in the least. It is numbers based, hence why the reference to math signifies its use here.  Though lyrically limited, “21 M◊◊N WATER” gives the album another intriguing ‘number’.

“8 (circle)” supersedes it, giving 22, A Million one of its warmest and most epic moments.  The lengthiest song clocking in over five minutes, it’s well worth it.  Vocally, “8 (circle)” is arguably Vernon’s tour de force.  Musically, the saxophones – Colin Stetson, Michael Lewis, and Sad Sax of Shit – in particular, provide a lift.

Penultimate record “____45_____” is as stunning as everything else.  Saxophones, banjo, and superb vocals give it its shine, not to mention the mystical element.  “00000 Million” concludes more restrained, almost hymn-like.  This vibe is fulfilled thanks to the upright piano sound, often associated with an old club or church.

Final Thoughts

All in all, 22, A Million is a brilliant album. Bon Iver outdoes himself on this electro-acoustic alternative amalgam.  Vernon manages to make the listener think analytically, yet also embrace genuine emotions.  A lyrically ambitious LP, after examining the lyrics and themes, more of the magic of 22, A Million unveils itself.

Gems: “22 (OVER S∞∞N),” “10 dEAThbREasT⚄⚄,” “33 “GOD”” & “8 (circle)

Bon Iver • 22, A Million • Jagjaguwar • Release: 9.30.16
Photo Credit: Jagjaguwar

Publishing Note: This album review was originally published on The Musical Hype as Bon Iver Compels on Third Album, ’22, A Million’ on October 3, 2016. 

The Weeknd, Starboy © Republic

10 Hot 100 Takeaways: The Weeknd Ascends to No. 3

The Weeknd, Starboy © Republic

The Chainsmokers remain the biggest story on the Billboard Hot 100.  “Closer” (ft. Halsey) spends its seventh week at no. 1.  Right behind it – as has been the case for several weeks – is Twenty One Pilots’ “Heathens.”  So, with the top two spots unchanged, The Weeknd earns the headline as Starboyascends to no. 3.  Beyond the top three spots, there’s more chart stories on the Hot 100 dated October 15, 2016.

  1. The Chainsmokers (“Closer”) retain the no. 1 spot on the Hot 100 for the seventh consecutive week. The Chainsmokers and Halsey are doing big things.


  1. The no. 1 spot continues to elude Twenty One Pilots. “Heathens” continues to settle for the runner-up spot.   



  1. The Weeknd sees his new single “Starboy” (ft. Daft Punk) fly up the charts from no. 40 to no. 3. Seems the Weeknd can truly back up being a “motherfuckin’ star boy.”



  1. gnash sees “I Hate U I Love U” (ft. Olivia O’Brien) jump into the top-15 of the Hot 100. The record ascends from no. 19 to no. 13.


  1. Hailee Steinfield & Grey break into the top 25 with “Starving” (ft. Zedd). “Starving” rises from no. 31 to no. 24.


  1. Young M.A. continues to build momentum as “OOOUUU” ascends from no. 52 to no. 36.



  1. Rae Sremmurd seem to have another hit on their hands. “Black Beatles” jumps 26 spots from no. 77 to no. 41.


  1. Amine ascends up the charts with “Caroline,” which rises from no. 65 to new peak no. 52.



  1. Lady Gaga continues to lose support on “Perfect Illusion,” which dips from no. 42 to no. 59 in its third charting week.


  1. Niall Horan sees This Towndebut at no. 63. “This Town” created quite a buzz upon its release…at least among the tweens.


Publishing Note: An expanded version of 10 Hot 100 Takeaways – Hot 100 Jewels – is published weekly on Wednesdays on The Musical Hype. 

Photo Credit: Republic

25 Chart Takeaways: Shawn Mendes Takes ‘Illuminate’ To No. 1


To reiterate the expected, Shawn Mendes easily debuts no. 1 on the Billboard 200.  Even with a number of new releases arriving September 23, Mendes’ Illuminate was a lock to take the chart crown.  Given his success, Mendes is the center of the biggest story of the Billboard 200, dated October 15, 2016.  Still, there are plenty of other storylines worth reading and analyzing.  Don’t get it twisted though…Shawn’s the man!


  1. Shawn Mendes rules the roost. Illuminate easily debuts at no. 1 on the Billboard 200.


  1. After reclaiming the throne for a 13th time last week, Drake (Views) finds himself at no. 2.



  1. Luke Bryan scores the chart’s second highest debut with Farm Tour: There’s to the Farmer. The EP lands at no. 4.


  1. Bruce Springsteen returns to the top five of the Billboard 200 with compilation Chapter And Verse (no. 5).


  1. Crowder (American Prodigal) debuts at no. 12.


  1. My Chemical Romance sees a gargantuan sales gain with the release of a 10th anniversary edition of The Black Parade. The Black Parade ascends 129 spots from no. 143 to no. 14. When originally released in 2006, The Black Parade debuted at no. 2.



  1. Maxwell finally got some good news – commercially. blackSUMMERS’night re-enters the Billboard 200 at no. 19. This marks only the set’s ninth charting week.  Despite subpar sales, blackSUMMERS’night was another fantastic project from the R&B artist.


  1. Usher clings onto a spot in the top 20 as Hard II Love slips 15 spots from no. 5 to no. 20.



  1. Every Time I Die sees new album Low Teens debut at no. 23.



  1. Ty Dolla $ign’s newest project, mixtape Campaign, debuts quietly at no. 28.


  1. Broadway actress and pop vocalist Idina Menzel sees her newest album Idina. debut modestly at no. 29. She may be the “Queen of Swords” but she’s not the queen of the charts…


  1. Mac Miller plummets in his sophomore week. The Divine Feminine drops from no. 2 to no. 30. Ouch!



  1. The Trolls soundtrack starts at no. 33 on the Billboard 200.


  1. Kristen Chenoweth debuts The Art of Elegance at no. 36. The numbers are not-so-elegant.


  1. Legendary band Kansas returns to the Billboard 200 with comeback album The Prelude Implicit. The Prelude Implicit debuts at no. 41.



  1. Aaron Lewis outperformed Usher on last week’s chart with Sinner (no. 4). This week, it’s depreciation is much greater than the R&B artists, slipping from no. 4 to no. 43.


  1. Live At The Greek Theatre, the latest live project from Joe Bonamassa, debuts at no. 48.


  1. Aaron Lewis has a crappy week. Casting Crowns’ was worst. After The Very Next Thing debuted at no. 9 last week, it free falls to no. 56 this week.


  1. Kentucky country musician Dwight Yoakam returns to the Billboard 200 with Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars…which debuts at no. 62.



  1. Passenger starts at no. 70 with Young As The Morning, Old As The Sea.



  1. Danny Brown (Atrocity Exhibition) stars at no. 77.



  1. Bastille continues to plummet. Wild World slides from no. 43 to no. 92 in its third charting week. Such an awesome album doesn’t deserve such abysmal numbers.



  1. Britney SpearsGlory is a bomb. Glory slides from no. 66 to no. 103 in its fourth charting week.


  1. Warpaint (Heads Up) debuts modestly at no. 129.



  1. Hamilton Leihauser + Rostam hopefully didn’t have too many grandiose dreams about chart success. I Had A Dream That You Were Mine debuts at no. 141.

Publishing Note: An expanded version of 25 Chart Takeaways – BB Grooves – is published weekly on Wednesdays on The Musical Hype.

Photo Credit: Island 
Mac Miller, The Divine Feminine © Warner Bros.

Mac Miller, The Divine Feminine – Album Review

Mac Miller, The Divine Feminine © Warner Bros.


Mac Miller flips the script on his fourth studio album, ‘The Divine Feminine.’ The results are captivating and well-rounded.

Ahead of his fourth album The Divine Feminine, Mac Miller released three singles: “Dang!”, “We,” and “My Favorite Part.”  All three singles showcased a softer, more romantically-charged Miller.  By the time “My Favorite Part” arrived, fans understood that The Divine Feminine would be the biggest ‘departure’ from the Pittsburgh MC’s discography.  Centering mostly around romance but not sans sex, many of the unapologetic references that follow Miller are absent.

“Congratulations” kicks off The Divine Feminine gently and freely, lacking concrete structure.  Mac, still manages to be profane:

“But I swear that ass what heaven’s like / when I’m in that p*ssy, it’s a better life”

Aside from one or two slip-ups, the opener is clearly amorous. “Congratulations” is meant to set the tone for the album.  It accomplishes this feat, receiving a lift from Bilal on the outro.


“Dang!”, featuring Anderson .Paak, brilliantly depicts love, sex, and relationship issues, in fresh fashion. Specifically, “Dang!” dabbles in true love – struggling with settling into a relationship as opposed to empty, meaningless hook ups.  Mac’s flow is beastly, in the most introspective, soulful way possible. As he’s proved throughout 2016, Anderson .Paak is a godsend to urban music.   

“Stay” has a tough act to follow, but ends up being ultra-successful.  The concept isn’t far-fetched nor game-changing: “[girl], will, you, stay, just a little while, babe?”  Over its course, Mac literally begs, thinking with the love below:

“You so complicated, I swear that p*ssy Grammy-nominated / let’s make some music, f*ck all of the bullshit”

By the end, apparently, Miller is convincing. An array of feminine, orgasmic sounds concludes. Signature Mac Miller.


“Skin” can be characterized as “innuendo central.” From the start, Mac Miller is, well, horny.  While “Skin” doesn’t have higher ambitions beyond sex, it’s a beautiful illustration nonetheless.  The harmonic progression is perfectly suited and Miller is fully invested.  Even if it’s shallow, “Skin” is one of the best moments on The Divine Feminine.

“Cinderella” brings on the ubiquitous Ty Dolla $ign, who delivers a signature, gritty hook.  The collaboration between the two works seamlessly.  The edginess of Ty and the nimble, aggressiveness of Miller is like a match made in heaven…if a sinful one.  “Cinderella” closes with switch-up, which finds Miller singing romantically to Cinderella of course.

“Planet God Damn” (featuring Njomza) isn’t the most innocent name for a song, though Miller loved the word so much to name his third album after a variant of it (GO:OD AM). But that’s beside the point.  “Planet God Damn” is all sensation, or to quote Janet Jackson, “sexation.” Mac states it best himself:

“Lotta people suck a d*ck, but you can execute it / perfect timing, don’t you ever add another second to it.”

“Soulmate” might be the gimmickiest song off The Divine Feminine, but it’s also one of the most intriguing moments.  The production is exceptional – out of the box.  While the song itself takes a while to completely digest, upon hearing, there’s the sense this is special.  The hook is winning, period:

“You the one to show me divine love, love, love, love / where was you when I was lonely, my divine love, love, love, love?”


Standout “We” is beautifully produced with dusty, soulful production work, touting an old-school sound. Miller delivers thoughtful rhymes about emotional soundness as a couple. CeeLo Green guests exhibiting a subtle approach that still manages to pack a punch.  Ultimately, it’s another magnificent moment for Miller.

While somewhat reluctant upon its isolated release, “My Favorite Part” featuring Ariana Grande, plays well contextually within The Divine Feminine.  “My Favorite Part” is a departure, but definitely groovy and soulful, chocked full of chivalry. The production is incredibly lush, anchored by a sick old school groove and a robust bass line. The chemistry between Miller and Grande is great.

“God Is Fair, Sexy, Nasty” concludes The Divine Feminine with a bang…no pun intended.  Kendrick Lamar guests on the second eight-minute cut of the LP.  The last three minutes or so serves as an interlude, featuring Mac’s grandmother expounding upon her relationship.  It’s another respectable moment, but not the crème de la crème.

Final Thoughts

All in all, The Divine Feminine is a departure album for Mac Miller that works near perfectly.  Miller is softer, but he still maintains enough bite and edge that he doesn’t lose his artistic identity.  The shake up for album four is welcome, particularly considering the fact that GO:OD AM didn’t sell exceptionally well despite being high-quality.  If The Divine Feminine is off-putting the first listen, give it a couple of more spins and its magic will reveal itself.

Gems: “Dang!” (ft. Anderson. Paak), “Skin,” “We” (ft. CeeLo Green) & “My Favorite Part” (ft. Ariana Grande)

Mac Miller • The Divine Feminine • Warner Bros. • Release: 9.16.16
Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Publishing Note: This album review was originally published on The Musical Hype as Mac Miller Shows Romantic and Sensual Side On ‘The Divine Feminine’  on September 19, 2016. 

The Weeknd, Starboy © Republic

Tracks: The Weeknd, Starry (ft. Daft Punk)

The Weeknd, Starboy © Republic


Urban contemporary superstar The Weeknd picks up where he left off in 2015 with promo single “Starboy” featuring Daft Punk.  

Every savvy artist who’s also a businessman (or woman) understands the importance of seizing the moment.  The Weeknd experienced the biggest moment of his career in 2015 when Beauty Behind the Madness became a multiplatinum hit spawning numerous hit singles (“Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills” namely). Smartly, The Weeknd capitalizes on his success by returning with his third proper album, Starboy on November 25, 2016.  The best way to promote Starboy? Release title track, “Starboy” of course, with the help of Daft Punk.

Like previous singles, The Weeknd flaunts his high-pitched voice in all its distinctive, beautiful glory.  Even given its high-pitched nature, The Weeknd himself retains toughness, keeping “Starboy” in line with the explicit singles he’s released previously. He references drugs – specifically cocaine – and drops the M-F bomb (“Look what you’ve done / I’m a motherf*ckin’ starboy”).  Furthermore, he flexes:

“All red Lamb’ just to tease you / none of these toys on lease too / mad your whole year in a week too…”

Beyond the lyrics, “Starboy” is superbly produced.  After opening with tone-setting distortion, a respectable groove anchors.  The overall sound is urban, but there are enough pop cues to give him more crossover success. Daft Punk are by no means the main attraction, but they don’t fade into the background either.  The contributions add to the distinctiveness of the record.  Also, doesn’t hurt they produce it either.

Final Thoughts

All in all, “Starboy” has the potential to be another hit for The Weeknd.  It doesn’t supersede “Can’t Feel My Face” or “The Hills,” but it complements those juggernauts.  He sounds as exceptional as ever, while Daft Punk provide a great lift.

The Weeknd • Starboy • Republic • Release: 11.25.16 
Photo Credit: Republic

Publishing Note: This track review was originally posted on The Musical Hype on September 26, 2016.

Ty Dolla Sign, Campaign © Atlantic

Ty Dolla Sign, Campaign (Mixtape) – Album Review

Ty Dolla Sign, Campaign © Atlantic


After delivering a compelling debut album with Free TCTy Dolla $ign returns with a new mixtape, Campaign.  Campaign isn’t too far-fetched from being a studio album in effect, yet aside from superb production, it doesn’t feel as well conceived as his debut. Ty loosely drops a concept considering its campaign season but fails to commit consistently.  If the campaign is about selling himself, he exceeds expectations without a doubt.

“$Intro” initiates with political messaging, expectedly. The campaign shifts from Clinton and Trump to campaigning for each other – supporting and loving one another. “$” follows, slickly produced, yet shallow. Quite repetitive, lyrics aren’t the strong suit, as Dolla raps about himself.  Ultimately, on the chorus, he confidently spits, “Dolla, you know you the shit.”

“Campaign” is strongly produced, sounding “H.A.M.” to quote Kanye West. Future guests, and for whatever reason, “Campaign” sounds more like his track as opposed to Dolla’s. The main reason is because of the rhythmic, fast paced rhymes, and the minimalist, looped production that isn’t dissimilar from the sound of DS2. As a banger or turn-up track, “Campaign” is successful.  In regards to being transcendent, not so much.

“??? (Where)” featuring Migos continues the sharp production work, anchored by a badass beat and malicious, gritty synth.  “??? (Where)” is drenched in swag and lax in depth.  Essentially, he’s drunk, high, and hooking up. 3 Wayz” (featuring Travis Scott) doesn’t dramatically shift the script, though lean plays a notable role. The pace slows as if Dolla wants fans to live off the same high of which he sings.  Scott delivers the faded hook:

“One more stop ‘fore the world stop / we gon’ roll this loud it’s prohibited / making money moves off the laptop / codeine, codeine, codeine, no prescriptions here.”

On “Juice,” Dolla brags:

“She only call me when she want the juice.”

The juice which Dolla refers isn’t a beverage, but himself.  Essentially, he’s come up and all the women want him.  He makes this crystal clear on throughout, particularly the bridge:

“They doubted me and now she want my energy / we ain’t got no chemistry but I still might f*ck though…”

Zaddy” follows up appropriately – contextually that is – given the gold digging, self-confident references of “Juice.”  In essence, Dolla gives her everything she wants – material things and physical pleasure.  He benefits from the latter, ultimately the M.O. of the record.  “Zaddy” superbly segues into the slow, super slick “Hello,” which embraces the same vibe as “Juice” and “Zaddy.” He’s got money, so therefore, he flexes (“Young n*gga flexin’”). Furthermore, the women want him:

“Boy, I’ve been so lonely / and I see you getting money / but you don’t spend none on me.”

“R&B” is lush.  It’s as warm as a gritty Dolla can be.  “R&B” isn’t innocent, as he bluntly asserts, “I feel in love with an R&B bitch.” Still, the record represents a savvy stretch of Campaign, representing the crème de la crème. On soulful pre-release single Stealing,” he’s criminal, thanks to being a heartbreaker.  The strings are a selling point.

“Clean” continues a cocky, confident script, ultimately lacking profundity. In a nutshell, it’s well produced, but thrives off clichés as opposed to bigger, deeper ideas.  “My Song” ft. 24hrs doesn’t add depth, as Dolla brags about his latest conquest:

“She say that she wanna stay over / but I like to stay all alone / I f*cked that b*tch to my song…”

On “Pu$$y,” Dolla is assisted by Trey Songz and Wiz Khalifa. Both guest artists are natural complements to Ty, particularly Songz given his penchant for sex.  Expectedly, “Pu$$y” is ultimately about just what its title suggests.

“No Justice” featuring Big TC aims higher, something that Campaign should’ve done more of besides focusing on shallow things. It doesn’t last, of course, as “Watching,” featuring Meek Mill, is all about p-popping. The Charlie Heat Remix of “Campaign” concludes the mixtape.

Final Thoughts 

Ultimately, Campaign has its fair share of moments. It’s good enough to be considered to be Ty Dolla $ign’s sophomore album, yet it’s not as sound as Free TC was.  He remains himself throughout its course, but that also means overreliance on sex, drugs, and shallowness. Campaign, hence, is no classic, but an enjoyable effort by Dolla.

Gems: “3 Wayz,” “Zaddy,” “Hello” & “R&B” 

Ty Dolla $ign • Campaign • Atlantic • Release: 9.23.16
Photo Credit: Atlantic

Publishing Note: This mixtape review was originally published on The Musical Hype as Ty Dolla Sign Flexes on His ‘Campaign’ Mixtape on September 29, 2016.